Mule Creek Canyon is often one of the most memorable parts of our Rogue River trips for both guests and guides. It is one of my favorites too due to its mix of scenery, geology, and unique whitewater.
Where is Mule Creek Canyon?
Mule Creek Canyon is a half-mile stretch that emerges in the second half of the Rogue River trip, just above a large rapid known as Blossom Bar.
Two geologic formations frame the river. If you get the chance to look to your left, basalt and sandstone pillows, twists, and slants make the Dothan Formation. Looking to your right, you will the see dark grey and green bulges of ocean crust and volcanic sheets of the Rogue Formation. Over time, the river helped carve a narrow path between these two jagged formations, causing water to accelerate and bounce irregularly through the smaller, rougher, space.
Reading Water in Mule Creek Canyon
With this acceleration, the Rogue river becomes faster, more unpredictable, and lots of fun. Understanding rivers and their rapids is like learning another language. Rocks, currents, and waves are the words and successful navigation puts these elements together just like reading.
In Mule Creek Canyon, there are big waves, contrasting currents, boils, as well as combinations of all three. I love this section because while rafting you have to be on your toes, constantly “reading” the water and reacting to these interesting features.
The crown jewel of the stretch is the rapid called The Coffeepot, where the river narrows even further and the water becomes confused swirls. I find it to be just a little different every time. Getting a big boat through a small space is a challenge but the guides set safety on either side which helps everyone navigate the rapid.
It is also great opportunity for rowing school students to put together all they have learned, responding to its abrupt changes and working their way to the other side.
Leaving the Canyon
Once through The Coffeepot, the river mellows surprisingly quickly. The contrast is welcome as you get to swim and relax in a special place, passing one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the trip.
I tend to row a little slower here so I can enjoy the surroundings too. I’m looking for good company, I hope you can join me and experience Mule Creek Canyon on your next river trip!
A few rapids loom larger than others when river guides tell tales around the campfire. Here's a list of the biggest rapids from a river guide's perspective - in alphabetical order. Not big enough for you? If you’re an accomplished kayaker or extreme rafter, you’ll want to scroll down to the bottom of this page to see a round-up of rapids that are bigger, but not commonly discussed among river guides. 1. Blossom Bar (Rogue River, Oregon) You don’t get to be known as "the most...
High water on the Middle Fork of the Salmon begins at 5 feet when the river is quite continuous, the water is cold, and recovery from a flip or swim can be difficult. Here are some key points if you're considering paddling the Middle Fork at high water: Everyone should have PFDs that fit them well, have plenty of flotation, and are relatively new Wetsuits or drysuits should be mandatory for everyone Guides should be experienced with high water, proper boat spacing, and flipping rafts back...